House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that there’s “no cause for any joy” in launching an official impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
“This is a very sad time for our country,” Pelosi said during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Impeachment of a president is as serious as our Congressional responsibilities can be, apart from declaring war or something.
“We always have to put country before party very clearly in the public view,” she said. “This is as serious as it gets when it comes to protecting the Constitution of the United States.”
Pelosi’s comments come days after formally announcing an impeachment inquiry on the president, after months of growing pressure from her fellow Democrats, and an increasingly fractured, divided nation, setting up an eventual clash between Congress and Trump.
The inquiry centers on whether Trump abused his powers as president by seeking help from a foreign government. In this case, Trump was asking Ukraine and its president Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, according to a whistleblower’s complaint.
The complaint alleges that White House officials were so concerned about what the president said during the call, they intervened to “lock down” the transcript of the conversation.
“He gave us no choice,” Pelosi said Friday about an impeachment inquiry after months of resisting taking action. “I think we have to stay focused as far as the public is concerned on the fact that the President of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain.”
Trump has repeatedly said the call with Zelensky was honorable and called any inquiry “a continuing witch hunt” on him.
“…..nice call with with the new President of Ukraine, it could not have been better or more honorable, and the Fake News Media and Democrats, working as a team, have fraudulently made it look bad,” the president tweeted on Friday. “It wasn’t bad, it was very legal and very good. A continuing Witch Hunt!”
However, Pelosi said Friday that the Trump administration’s actions are jeopardizing both the “national security” of America and “the integrity of our elections.”
Pelosi also said in regards to the inquiry, that “this is my wheelhouse.”
“As I said to the president, (I have) 25 years of experience in intelligence,” Pelosi said. “I was there when we wrote the whistleblower laws. I was there when we wrote the law establishing the office of the director of national intelligence. That’s only since 2004.”
When Pelosi was asked if the inquiry could end by the end of the year, she said that the House would “move with purpose, and expeditiously, but not hastily.”
Pelosi said by “looking at the material the administration is giving us, they are actually speeding up the process.”
The whistleblower complaint also alleges that Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is “a central figure” in pressuring Ukraine to cooperate, and that “Attorney General (William) Barr appears to be involved as well.”
Pelosi said Friday that the Justice Department has “gone rogue.”
“I think where they’re doing is a cover-up of the cover-up,” Pelosi said. “To have a Justice Department go so rogue, well they have for a while… makes matters so much worse.”
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—A running list of questions on the impeachment inquiry, answered
—5 allegations made in the declassified whistleblower complaint
—What is CrowdStrike? Trump mentioned the company in his Ukraine call
—These are the key players in the Trump impeachment inquiry
—How impeachment momentum massively shifted among democrats
—The 25 most powerful women in politics
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